Month: July 2014

Set Social Media Dos & Don’ts for Community

Misuse of social media by management staff and members of the community you manage can lead to liability for your company and bad publicity for the association. You don’t have to let social media run amok. A two-step plan can help you use social media in your favor:

Don’t Assume Late Assessment Notice Excuses Member from Paying

If for some reason you’re late sending a notice to a delinquent member, you may wonder whether you’ve missed the chance to collect or whether you should try to collect at all. A recent Pennsylvania case highlights why under some circumstances, lateness isn’t fatal.

There, a townhome owner in a planned community didn’t pay his annual assessments for seven years. The association sued him for the delinquent amount. A trial court ruled in favor of the association and awarded full payment of unpaid annual assessments plus attorney’s fees and costs.

Reduce Risk of Social Media Threats from Employees and Members

While social media can be used to positively promote your management company and the associations it manages, there are also two inherent dangers in this type of communication. First, social media may be used improperly by your employees, leading to liability for the company. Second, the association’s members may use it as an outlet for complaints, leaving the board and manager to undo the damage—undesirable impressions of the community that negative comments have created.

Using Reserve Account Funds Appropriately

Q: I’m a new board member on my community association’s board of directors, and I’m getting up to speed on association issues. There has been some discussion about whether it’s appropriate to borrow from our reserve account. What is a reserve account, and what are some guidelines for using its funds?

Calif. Design Defects Case Falls in Favor of HOAs

In a unanimous decision, California’s Supreme Court has ruled that the principal architects for a condominium project may be sued directly by a condominium homeowners association for design defects. In that case, units in a condominium project in San Francisco allegedly developed several defects including water infiltration, structural cracks, and overheating that made units virtually uninhabitable at times. The association sued the architects, alleging that these defects were caused by negligent design.

HOA Policy Aims to Protect Members from Bears

A Central Florida neighborhood has created a policy aimed at protecting homeowners from bears. The homeowners association voted for the unprecedented change in an attempt to try to prevent another bear attack after a resident was recently mauled. The attack is considered the worst bear attack in state history. Officials have maintained that bears can be kept out of neighborhoods by limiting their food supply—like open trash cans.

HOA Flags Member Over Patriotic Display

A more than two-year battle over an American flag display in a Jacksonville, Fla., homeowners association has led to more than $8,000 in fines and a lien on a member’s home in that community. A Florida veteran has been fighting with the association about what he asserts is his right to keep the flag in a flower pot in his front yard.

Association Couldn’t Enforce Lien Against Bankrupt Homeowner

Facts: An association filed a lien on a homeowner’s property after she didn’t pay dues or assessments for several years. It filed the lien under the Pennsylvania Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA). In order to recoup the past-due amount, the association arranged for a sheriff’s sale of the homeowner’s property. But two days before the sale, the homeowner filed for bankruptcy, which meant that the association couldn’t sell her property at the sale. The sale was cancelled, but the association sought to enforce its lien.

Homeowners Bound by Vague Restrictive Covenants

Facts: Homeowners installed landscaping on their property without receiving approval from their association’s architectural review committee (ARC), which was required by restrictive covenants in the community’s governing documents. The homeowners refused to remove the landscaping after they were informed by the association’s manager that it conflicted with the appearance of the community and was prohibited. They argued that the restrictive covenants were vague and ambiguous as to what outdoor improvements could be made by homeowners.

Board Could Unilaterally Increase Regular Assessment

Facts: An association’s governing documents granted the board the authority to levy a special assessment if the regular assessment is inadequate. The board raised the regular assessment from $100 per quarter to $130 per quarter. Notice was sent to the homeowners. This increase was discussed at the annual association meeting, which included the presence of a quorum of the membership. However, the members didn’t vote on the assessment increase.